The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has called advocated the provision of more funds to the nation’s education sector, to transform and reposition it for economic growth and development.
Dr Michael Olawale-Cole, President, LCCI, made the call on Wednesday in Lagos, at the LCCI Education Group Seminar with the theme: “The Effects of low Government funding on Education in Nigeria”.
Olawale-Cole described adequate access to reliable and affordable education as the catalyst for productivity enhancement.
He said it would also help industrialisation and revenue optimisation to make the economy globally competitive.
The LCCI chief said that Nigeria, and indeed Africa, could only join the league of developed economies if education enjoyed deserved focus and transformation.
He said this was especially with emerging realities in the deployment of technology for digital learning and artificial intelligence.
Olawale-Cole noted the 50 per cent increase in allocation to the education sector by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, but said it represented less than 10 per cent of the 2022 total budget.
This, Olawale-Cole posited, was far from the 15-20 per cent benchmark recommended by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural organisation (UNESCO).
He said that the private sector also deserved commendation for its support to the nation’s education sector.
“Some tech giants and telecommunications companies, for instance, have recently announced multi-billion-dollar partnerships with UNICEF to boost digital learning in Nigeria and some other African countries under the UNICEF “Reimagine Education” initiative which was launched in 2020.
“Online learning has become a significant aspect of our educational system today,” he said.
The LCCI President spoke on the regular rift between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the frequency of industrial actions by the union.
He said it called for more funding and more attention to the terms and conditions of the teaching profession in Nigeria.
Olawale-Cole urged government at both state and federal levels to vote more resources and attention to education.
He reiterated that Public-Private Partnership remained the best option for tackling national issues on funding, including the prevailing challenges of the nation’s education sector.
“The Chamber is very much interested in collaborating with the government within our jurisdiction to enhance education delivery in Nigeria.
“The Chamber urges the Federal Government to consider granting economic autonomy to the universities, which will eventually resolve the funding crisis.
“The government at all levels need to create an enabling environment supported with significant investment in the provision of a robust digital economy to empower online education delivery,” he said.
Registrar, Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria, Prof. Josiah Ajiboye, said the narrative that the Nigerian education was in a mess.
He said that this was because of low government budgetary allocation and the overlooking of the management of available funding.
Ajiboye said that the problem with the Nigerian education sector beyond funding was more of management and lack of interest in the sector by the political elite.
He said the sector, with its immense impact on human society, deserved adequate provision to engender quality education which was the hallmark of prosperous nations.
Ajiboye stated that from available data, Nigeria had low budgetary allocation to education at 6.5 per cent in 2016/17 compared to Egypt 11.10 per cent, Ghana 13.50 per cent, South Africa 15 per cent, Lesotho 19.20 per cent and Kenya 23.10 per cent.
“Illiteracy rates, which is high, and the poor outcome in education has been credited to this low funding on education,” he said.
Chairperson, Education Group, LCCI, Mrs Modupe Onabanjo, gave advice on how to solve the problem of low funding of Nigeria’s education sector.
She said that the Federal Government must keep to its promises made at the Education summit of 2021 in the United Kingdom.
The chairperson said that government must carry also out close monitoring and maintenance of schools through independent electorate committees.
She said it must improve planning mechanisms and resource allocations to the educational sector.
“Budget process and resources management must be carefully captured to ensure that educational priorities top the list and implementation are duly effected.
“There’s also the need to involve education stakeholders within the community with public school affairs,” she said.